Sharing Thanksgiving Overseas

Posted on Nov 21 2011 - 1:30pm by Tim Eyre

Got an extra chair at the Thanksgiving table this year? Don’t push it aside or use it to stack coats, fill it with a laptop or tablet and accommodate a remote guest right at the table. Friends and family members all over the country will be celebrating Thanksgiving but some of them will only be present through a brief phone call. While a loved one may not be physically present, you can easily have them join your celebration thanks to the wonderful world of technology by using online chatting and telecommunications.

Sometimes our loved ones can’t make it to the Thanksgiving meal, but we still want to share giving thanks with them. In our unstable economy, some of the biggest restrictions are traveling expenses or employment responsibilities.  Those who live far from home find it hard to spend thousands of dollars to make the trip.  It may also be a hassle to take enough time off from work to justify the trip. The biggest separating factor this holiday season hits the people who are serving our country in the armed forces.  Military families everywhere may be unable to spend their turkey day with those who are overseas; who are fulfilling the ultimate work responsibility – protecting and defending our country.

You may not be able to see your overseas family member in person, but thanks to the advances in technology, you can still enjoy the holiday in their presence … their telepresence.  Through the internet, phone lines, or a satellite device, your spouse, parent or child can be virtually sitting at the dinner table.  Simply set up a time, and enjoy some much needed time together. One of our family traditions is to go around the table and mention at least one thing you are thankful for; if you have a loved one serving overseas their outlook on life may have a big impact on your priorities.

If you haven’t used telecommunication before, don’t fret; it’s not as difficult as you may think. All that is required is to download some software, set up an account, and you’re ready to start chatting. 

Most Smartphone’s will allow for video chatting as well as online video talking.  And if you’re planning on using a computer, you have a multitude of options.  Skype, the most popular video chatting service, is free for most options and can double as a calling service.  Other programs, such as Goober Messenger, provide video chatting and social media integration, and Google Plus, if you haven’t created your page yet do it! So even if your aunt or your uncle or Grandma arrives after the phone calls are done and the turkey is carved, they can still find out what your brother in Iraq or Afghanistan had to say.

When it comes to Skype, take the entire family into the room with the Skype capable Internet TV, hook up a webcam, and see your relatives across the world in living color and almost fullsize – if your TV is really, really big, that is.  You can find out more about this minor miracle at

This upcoming holiday don’t let the distance stand in the way between you and your family members.  With the help of a television, a webcam, a Smartphone or a computer along some simple (and free) software, you can be enjoying each other’s company just in time for the holidays.  Don’t want to do technology at the table?  Set a place and put a chair at the table, and put a picture of your missing relative right at the table where everyone can see them.

On behalf of Extra Space Storage, we would like to take this moment to thank all the men and women in our armed forces.  May you have a happy and family-filled (whether in person or through technology) Thanksgiving.

Tim Eyre